Mexico Travel Documentation Requirements

Mexico Tourist Documentation Requirements for Individuals and Vehicles

Travel in Mexican border states is unrestricted up to a point approximately 21 kilometers (13 miles) from the border. At that point, all major highways have a customs station where you can stop and obtain travel documentation and vehicle permits.

The type of visitor visa document needed to visit Sonora depends on where you plan to go, why you want to go there and how long you plan to stay. Mexico issues the following tourist and residency documentation for foreigners visiting the country:

  • FMM Tourist Card: For visits beyond 21km of the border
  • Temporary Resident Visa: For stays that exceed 180 days and up to four years
  • Permanent Resident Visa: For permanent residency in Mexico, and
  • Non-ordinary Visa: For diplomats and official representatives

To check the latest entry documentation requirements for the country of Mexico, click here to see the information presented by the Mexican Consulate in Tucson.

FMM Tourist Card (commonly known as an FMT Visitor Visa)

If you plan to go more than 21 kilometers (about 13 miles) south of the border into Sonora, you will need to obtain a Mexico FMM Tourist Card. The card is free of charge for visits of up to seven days, and costs 332 pesos (check current exchange rates) for visits to Mexico for up to 180 days (six months).

NOW – Fill out your FMM Tourist Card Online!

You can also obtain a tourist card at any of the SAT Mexican Customs offices at Mexico border crossings or 21km customs stations. The FMM form is simple and straightforward, and after completing it you must present it to a customs official along with a valid passport.

Traveler’s tip: If you wait to fill out the form in the Mexican Customs office – bring a pen, the Customs Office often will not have one.

If you will be staying in Sonora for a longer period of time (the FMT is issued for up to six months) the customs officer will provide you with a document to take to the nearby Mexican bank Banjercito to pay for the visa (they accept cash, credit and debit cards).

Once the FMT form has been approved, the customs official will stamp the form and give you your portion of it.

As of 2015, you will no longer be required to return the form to Mexican Customs, and you may obtain another FMM immediately – there is no longer a waiting period to obtain another Tourist Card.


If you are bringing your personal vehicle into Sonora from the United States and do not plan to travel outside of the Sonora Free Zone, you will not need a vehicle permit. However, you must be the registered owner of the vehicle, and of any vehicles in tow.

However, be prepared to present the title to the vehicle and insurance forms at the border and at the 21-kilometer checkpoint. If the vehicle’s owner is a relative (parent, spouse, or sibling) and you have the same last name, in addition to the title, bring a permission letter that is signed by the owner and notarized.

If you are driving a rental vehicle through a Mexican Customs station, you may be asked by Mexican Customs officials to present the rental contract for the vehicle.

If traveling out of the Sonora Free Zone

If you are traveling to other parts of Sonora, you may obtain a Sonora Only permit or a Banjercito federal Mexico tourist permit. Please note that US rental companies do not allow their vehicles to be driven outside of the Sonora Free Zone.

If you are traveling to other parts of Mexico, you will need to obtain a Banjercito federal tourist vehicle permit. The official who issues the permit will attach a sticker to your windshield, which will be removed when you turn in your permit on your way out of Mexico.

Other regulations regarding the temporary importation of vehicles into Sonora:

  • The vehicle must have current license plates
  • Vehicles and towed items that weigh more than 30 tons will require a permit
  • In addition to the main vehicle, you are allowed to bring up to three motorcycles or small boating craft.  If there are more than three people traveling together, the number of motorcycles/watercraft may be equal to the number of travelers.
  • Golf carts and similar small vehicles are not allowed into Sonora, since they are un-registered vehicles.

For more information about current individual and vehicular documentation requirements, please see the State of Sonora’s tourism website.